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Quick Tips: Cutting Back on Drinking

Experts say that for the best health, men should have no more than 2 alcoholic drinks in a day and no more than 14 in a week. Women should have no more than 1 drink a day and no more than 7 in a week. Adults ages 65 and older should have no more than 1 drink a day and 7 drinks a week. Keep in mind the following:

One drink is equal to:

  • 12 ounces of beer (5%)

  • 5 ounces of wine (12%)

  • 1.5 ounces of liquor (80-proof distilled spirits)

Changing your habits

  • Know your reasons. Write down your reasons for wanting to cut back (for example, to lower blood pressure or lose weight). You're more likely to be successful if you know exactly why you want to change. Why is it important to you?

  • Set some specific goals. You're not as likely to be successful if your goal is just to “drink less.” Have a long-term goal, such as lowering your blood pressure or losing weight. And set some short-term goals that will get you there like having “no-drink” days or only drinking within the recommended limits.

  • Have a plan for dealing with barriers. Expect slipups. When you have one, think about what led to it. You can use this information to not slipup next time.

  • Get support. Changing habits is usually easier when you get support from friends and family. Tell them what you're trying to do, and ask them to help. Think about how they can be helpful to you and let them know how they can support you.

  • Reward yourself. Plan to treat yourself every time you reach one of your goals. It could be a night at the movies, a new pair of shoes, or just some quiet time to yourself.

Cutting back on drinking

  • Try new approaches.

    • Pay attention to why you're having a drink. Is it just habit? For example, don't drink just because it’s 6 p.m. or because it’s Saturday night.

    • Teach yourself to drink slowly and really savor the taste. It may help to drink only expensive liquor.

    • Or try the opposite approach. Buy really cheap liquor that doesn't taste as good.

    • Use smaller glasses for your drinks. Know how many ounces they hold, so you can tell if you are drinking within the recommended limits.

    • Take a 1-hour break in between drinks.

    • Pick a day or 2 each week when you will not drink at all. Gradually take more break days every week. Think about how you feel on these days.

  • Find substitutes.

    • Find some favorite nonalcoholic drinks that you can drink regularly. If you like sweet drinks, find a fruit drink you like or try iced tea with honey. If you prefer drinks that aren't sweet, try tomato juice or tonic or soda water with a twist.

    • Become an expert at making tasty, unusual nonalcoholic drinks, like smoothies or “virgin” drinks. (For example, a “Virgin” Mary is a Bloody Mary without the alcohol.)

  • Water is your friend.

    • Have a large glass of ice water along with every drink. Use the water to quench your thirst. Use the alcoholic drink to please your taste buds.

    • Drink a large glass of water between drinks.

  • Do the math.

    • Figure out how much you're spending on alcohol each month. How much is that a year? What might you do with the money you save by cutting back?

    • Figure out how many calories are in each drink. How many calories is that a day or a week? Cutting back on alcohol will save you lots of calories.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 9/1/2019
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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